July 9, 2016

Indoor Recess - How one picture can SAVE 1,000 words

In my neck of the woods we end up with a LOT of indoor recess. Snow, rain, hail, extreme temperature.... In addition, the weather can change with very little notice. I can't tell you how many times we've got outside and turned right around to return to the classroom. Oh the sadness....the noise...the MESS. Is anyone an indoor recess fan? Given this necessary evil, I'm passing along how one photo may help keep your sanity by making the clean up process quiet and fast.
So I'm not an indoor recess fan, yet I do not adopt the 'put on a video' philosophy either. (Ok, on the rare occasion I will. I'm human.) I've found I pay the price the rest of the day with behavior. Those kids need to be active and move - so while we may be confined in a small space, I do all I can to keep their minds engaged with open-ended activities. I blogged here about indoor recess. It's what saved me last winter. I also recommend my set of Indoor Recess Activity Cards and this Letter Set gets lots of use during recess but is used in many other ways as well. Here, I'll share a great way to keep that "down time" easy to clean up.

First, I like to keep all my recess materials hidden. Out of sight = out of mind. If you have a closet or built in cupboards in your room consider devoting a shelf to recess stuff then close the door. I don't have any of those conveniences in my room so I've taken to using this odd bottom 'drawer' in this stand alone cabinet.
This area is where I do my read aloud and mini lesson - and kids love to read there too! This odd spot has also worked out great because it's a pain for me to get down there, it has a weird lift up lid - yet the kids can access it easily.
Before school starts each year I sort through the recess games and organize it so everything fits neatly. Everything is visible. Everything has a spot. Note that (most) bins are labeled. All boxes are facing forward. Then I take a picture of the neatly put away recess games. I print a color 8x10. I laminate it and put it in the front of the drawer.
That first week of school I share my photo and explain this is EXACTLY how I want the drawer put back together anytime we have indoor recess. Then I take out each activity, show how to work with it and leave it out. We practice indoor recess. (No one wants to practice when it is actually indoor recess so this is time well spent.) We model expected behavior and discuss how to join in an activity and how to move to a different activity.
The other key piece to a happy indoor recess happens at the end. The whole class works together to put everything back in its proper bin then they reassemble the drawer EXACTLY like the photo.
Now, you're a teacher or a parent. You KNOW this doesn't magically happen! Of course, you have to train your students. But you'll all be happy because the process is fun, fast and there is a sense of urgency. I take it one step further by insisting that it all happens in SILENCE.
Step 1: Announce silent clean up has started and set a timer for three minutes. Students are 100% silent as everyone works to put the things in their correct bins. Give the "stink eye" to anyone not helping or throwing stuff. That usually works. If all materials make it over to the drawer area before the timer goes off do a silent cheer.
Step 2: Again in silence, designate two students to work on putting the items back referring to the photo. Set the timer again. It is a challenge to see how fast they can do it! Only those two are allowed to whisper to each other. Once complete, give the final approval and the moment the door is shut the class should give a rousing round of applause! (Often, those two students will bow or curtsy.) The photograph places responsibility on the students and they get fun praise. Plus, since I don't have to explain or verbally direct, it saves me 1,000 words each time. Please comment below if you have a system that works well for you!

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I am going to start this when we go back after winter break! Thank you for sharing.


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